Imprisoned by the apartheid regime for 27 years
He has made such an impact on the whole world simply by wishing to be treated as an equal.
Andrew Barrett, Bedford
I have visited South Africa. I have spoken with many who lived through apartheid. The fact that I encountered everywhere a philosophy of looking towards the future rather than being bitter about the past is largely, I believe, because Mandela set the example.
Anna Lindsay, Cambridge
He is living proof that one man can make a difference.
Kathy Hansen, Sunderland
He inspired other Southern African (Namibian and Zimbabwean) people to continue to struggle to end the evil system of apartheid; he kept his standards even under the oppression of prison life, befriending his jailer, encouraging his comrades, educating, learning, and refining his skills and wisdom. He still inspires the world in the fight to end poverty and other struggles such as that of the Palestinian people in the hope of ending their oppression/occupation. He is above all a warm, forgiving and open human being.
Patricia Bryden, Edinburgh
Labelled a terrorist, he experienced harsh racial hatred and discrimination and was imprisoned for more than 25 years for his political views. Yet, on release, he did not seek revenge; he showed his statesmanship, good grace and humour, and did not reject the white minority that had held millions of his fellow black countrymen as almost non-citizens, almost slave labour. What humility and generosity of spirit. If we are to bring about any form of harmony between the peoples of this planet, he is our role model. He is a giant of a man who humbles us all.
H Glenister, Taunton